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"There is no science without fancy and no art without fact" – Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir NabokovVladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service. The elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins.

The Nabokov household was trilingual. As a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922.

For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym V Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri.

Having already fled Russia and Nazi Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he left France for the United States ahead of the Nazi invasion. There he taught at Stanford, Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell and, as an authority on butterflies, was a research fellow in entomology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology from 1942–59.

While in the USA he gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism.

With the financial security that followed the success of Lolita and several later books, he retired from teaching and settled at the Palace Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, and continued issuing his literary works and pronouncements until his death in 1977.

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